According to a consensus statement developed by the American Cancer Society, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, certain symptoms are more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population. Women who experience these symptoms are encouraged to discuss them with a physician, preferably a gynecologist.
A factor that contributes to many of these deaths is the tendency of ovarian cancer to be diagnosed at an advanced stage. Although screening tests such as mammography for breast cancer and the Pap test for cervical cancer have improved the early detection of those diseases, there are no comparable screening tests for ovarian cancer.
Alerting women to potential symptoms of ovarian cancer may be a partial solution to this problem. Although the ultimate screening goal is to identify ovarian cancer at its earliest stages-before it even produces symptoms-prompt evaluation of symptoms is likely to allow some women to be diagnosed earlier than they would have been otherwise.
Based on previous research, a group of cancer organizations developed a set of symptoms that should alert women to the possibility of ovarian cancer. These symptoms include the following:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Although these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than ovarian cancer, women who experience these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks are encouraged to see a doctor, preferably a gynecologist.
 American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer has early symptoms. First national consensus on common warning signs. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_1_1x_Ovarian_Cancer_Symptoms_The_Silence_Is_Broken.asp (Accessed June 20, 2007).